Category: fashion

Do you want your smartwatch to look like jewelry?

Do you want your smartwatch to look like jewelry?

I just had an interesting Twitter chat with Joe Macirowski about our various Apple Watch impressions. Joe said the 42 mm watch face was nicer to use, but that the 38 looked like jewelry, which he preferred. This seems worth exploring to me. Because I don’t *want* my smartwatch to look like jewelry.

I definitely think Apple’s smartwatch is the most elegantly designed product in wearable tech. I haven’t spent loads of time up close with any Pebble, but I’ve seen them enough to know that they’re not quite there for me, aesthetics wise. I dislike every fitness band and Moto thing I’ve laid eyes on.

If I could afford one of the swankier Apple Watch versions (likely the Rose Gold Edition with the Rose Gray band), I’d be much happier with the aesthetics… but ultimately, I still want the thing to *look like tech.*

I don’t wear a watch now. I haven’t worn a watch since the early 2000s, when I had a cheap stainless steel Fossil tank watch designed (I think) to knock off some high-end Cartier model. I started carrying a cell phone shortly after buying this watch, so I mostly wore that watch because it helped me look and feel and be more professional.

I was young—fresh out of college—and I was applying for jobs wearing a suit. (It’s sort of a trauma-induced thing after being sexually harassed by one of my first bosses—the more professional and serious you seem, the less likely you are to get hit on when the clock hits 5:01. Or so I told myself.)

I was also trying to be part of a corporate world that I didn’t yet realize wasn’t for me. I didn’t know what I wanted career-wise, but the work I found was administrative stuff in law offices and dressier-seeming corporations.

I didn’t yet know software was Land of the T-Shirt; I didn’t know games were Land of the Combat Boots. (I also didn’t know that both were fields where you’d get sexually harassed as a woman no matter what you wore, perhaps even more so than the aforementioned law offices.) I didn’t know I liked software or games or helping people figure out their online dating profiles. I was new at this whole Being Adult thing.

Wearing a watch on my wrist meant I was trying to display affluence, togetherness, formality—traits I didn’t actually possess at the time. Now I wear what I want and what flatters me for entirely different reasons… and I’m a hell of a lot better at spotting and shutting down harassers. (It helps that I left working in an environment full of the kind of day-to-day microagressions all women in tech face all the damn time. Sorry to make this watch post slightly political, but you know, it’s still depressingly relevant, so.)

Now, if I were to wear a dumbwatch, it would be almost entirely for aesthetics. It would have to be SO attractive (and water-resistant and easy to read) that I didn’t mind it getting in the way when I typed, or the extra weight it put on my wrist. It would have to kick ASS design-wise, and somehow still be affordable for my tiny indie budget.

Apple’s smartwatches are very pretty, but they’re not THAT pretty—especially not the ones I can afford. Therefore, I want the biggest watch face possible on a smartwatch, not just because it’s easier to read and use, but also because I want a watch that screams “I AM TECHNOLOGY!”

I want my smartwatch to make it clear that I didn’t buy a watch like this because *that’s my taste*—hell no. (If it were purely up to taste, I’d be in a thick Cartier tank watch with a band made from some kind of magically-no-longer-threatened species’s leather.) I want a smartwatch to communicate at a glance that this is a compromise between form and function. That I have better taste than that when it comes to actual decorative jewelry.

And hey, as a woman interested in tech, it doesn’t hurt to wear a new first-wave gadget that automatically telegraphs a certain geeky streak and technical prowess to the men I meet at conferences and events. Plenty of them still assume from my gender and appearance that I’m less educated, intelligent, capable, technical, etc. than the men at the table.

A watch that screams TEEEECCHH does me a lot of little favors socially and professionally. My old dumbwatch tried to convince people I was something I’m not, whereas a smartwatch that looks like tech tries to help people understand who I actually am.



Edited to add: since you read all the way here, I’m including bonus content. Lucky you! (?)

Manly Wrists and Apple Watch

Manly Wrists and Apple Watch

I have the opposite problem from most of you women in tech.

I listen to Christina Warren and Serenity Caldwell and Joanna Stern talk about how excited they are that Apple is making a smaller size smartwatch face. Their wrists are tiny and dainty, and a giant 42mm face would look stupid on them. Hooray for 38mm options! Hooray for the lovely modern buckle! Hooray for girly smartwatches that fit tiny fairy wrists! Hooray for Apple “getting” it!

Here’s the thing—I have man hands.

Bossypants, Manlyhands.

Okay, they’re not exactly like Tina Fey’s book cover here—I have a little less hair going on, and my nails are painted, and I wear intricate wedding rings. But I’ve always had larger hands and particularly wrists than most women. I can’t wear any bracelets that are designed to just be slipped on, because I can’t make my hand tiny enough to get them over the thumb bump (technical term).

I haven’t actually gotten to try on Apple Watch, but I’ve played around with paper prototypes and checked out other smartwatches in the world. I *like* bigger watch faces. They make it easier for my giant fingers to deal with tiny touch targets and buttons and, I presume, a Digital Crown. I like a smartwatch to give me the largest amount of manipulation and display space (not to mention battery life) possible.

What I’m saying is, I only want the bigass watch, even though I’m a relatively heteronormative lady. So while I’m excited about Apple Watch, I’m very disappointed that most of the “girly” options don’t come in my size.

Now, I’m not rich. I haven’t even fully decided if I can justify a cheap-ass comparatively ugly Sport watch yet, but let’s pretend that I have oodles of money. I want to deck my giant but still feminine wrists out with the most attractive, fashion-forward version of Apple Watch that I possibly can.

Let’s start at the more accessible price point, the stainless steel “Watch” watch. The band I like best is Modern Buckle. The color I like best is soft pink.

Watch watch with soft pink classic buckle band, 38mm

Guess what size it fits? 38mm only. Same with the navy classic leather band and the brown classic leather band, in case you were wondering. The thickest part of my wrist, with the bony-ass bump, is exactly 170 mm. I can thankfully wear either size of classic buckle leather band, if I’m willing to compromise on the smaller face size, which I’m not.

Now let’s look to the fancypants Edition edition. My next choice would be red band with yellow gold face. The gorgeous red leather modern buckle band only comes in smaller sizes which might not fit me, and it only fits the smaller 38mm face. My theoretical millions and I have to pass. Sigh, what a shame.

Edition edition with red modern buckle band, 38mm

And if I wanted the Rose Gold with Rose Gray (?), which is also stunning? Also only available in the 38mm, and I actually worry that the largest possible band size might not fit my wrists. (It says the modern buckle size L goes up to 180 mm, but I’m nervous. Most ladies’ stuff in a “large” doesn’t fit me. I have reason to be nervous, until I can try the thing on.) I have to pass on this beauty too. Sigh.

Edition edition rose gold with rose gray (?) modern buckle band, 38mm

If I *did* want to go all out and get a larger face 42mm Edition in either color, I’m stuck with the garish, tacky, sweaty, cheap plastic band. (I don’t care what Tim Cook called the thing, it’s made from fossil fuels and it looks like crap to me in every color.) I can’t even handle sullying a gorgeous watch face with a shitty band like this, even though Apple seems to think it’s totally fine:

The horrible compromise that would allow me a large face Edition edition.

I get that this is an early launch, and that third party options haven’t hit the market yet. I get that I (a cisgendered woman who happens to be six feet tall with bigger-than-average wrists) will likely have to order bands made for men/unisex sizes. I get that Apple is breaking ground by offering some stuff that fits the girly girls, even if it doesn’t happen to fit me personally.

But what of the trans women, who want girly fashion that fits all wrist sizes? What of the geeky girls like me who want a bigger screen to see their cool new tech on? What of hardcore vegan women who want a girly-feeling band for their expensive Editions, but are loathe like me to slap on a cheap-by-comparison fluorelastilame band and ruin the whole look?

I’m glad y’all are excited. I am too in theory. But I can’t wait for this to be  a more robust product lineup, with a truly diverse array of fashion, size, and color options. If you see me in the wild with a garish pink cheap plastic band on a Sport edition, please don’t compliment me on it. Now you know that my inner fashionista secretly hates everything about it.


P.S. Apple’s official sizing guide and Louis Mantia’s chart were both helpful in creating this whiny post. All product images come from Apple, except Tina Fey’s book, which is totally an Amazon affiliate link because why not.



Intellectually, I’m not a huge fan of new year’s resolutions—heck, I’m not even sure about how you capitalize and punctuate the phrase. :) I like to think that the time of year shouldn’t have a massive impact on deciding to make improvements in your life, you know?

But I’m in a weird spot this year. My part-time tech writing contract comes to a close at the end of January, which means I’ll be circling back to working on The Heartographer full time. I’m launching a few new products and initiatives soon that just happen to be coming out in Q1 2015. And I have a medical procedure coming up in March that will go much more smoothly if I can get a better handle on my physical health in advance.

For me, January 2015 will end up being a time to spark change and transition, whether I meant it that way or not. And while the philosophy of “make improvements independent of the new year” is a sound one, I never actually implement changes. Like, ever.

Discipline and follow-through have long been huge weaknesses for me. But as I prep for business and life shifts over the next year, it’s increasingly important that I get a better handle on the part of me that resists working hard to effect positive change in my life. It’s time to start actually trying instead of pooh-poohing the whole idea.

On La Dolce Vita, Paloma Contreras shared a few thoughts about how to make 2015 the best year yet. First on the list was setting intentions instead of resolutions. This totally jibes with me—on the one hand, I’d love to not give myself wiggle room to bail on what I set out to do, but I’m self-aware enough to know that the whole fear of failure thing would make me drop all my firm resolutions as soon as the going gets tough.

So, in the spirit of actually following through with some intentions, even if the outcome isn’t as drastic or simple as I’m hoping, I’ll share with y’all some of my intentions for the new year and beyond.


I’ve been wanting to get savvy with photo and graphic software for ages, so I can better self-help when I need to create a quick visual asset for my business or one of my many sites. I’ve made my poor husband (who is a video game designer, NOT a graphic designer) create and modify SO MANY business cards, ad graphics, logos, header images, you name it.

Photoshop is top of the list in terms of learning to create my own stuff, but OmniGraffle is next, as well as learning a bit more about actually manipulating a camera to take better pictures.

And this may sound frivolous, but I’d like to get the hang of applying false eyelashes. I’ve read how-to guides online and grilled every makeup artist who’s ever applied them for me, but I think what I need more than anything is a few extra pairs and some dedicated time to practice.

Falsies (I swear they’re called that) make a huge visual impact in the videos I produce! Of course they’re fun in social settings too, but I really mainly wear them for business. God, how weird and boring is that? You’d think I was a burlesque dancer or something! :)


I’m working on an iPhone app with Brandon, who does 99.9999% of the actual coding. While he’s helplful in teaching me some stuff, I can only have a certain impact in how much progress we make—but if I stay motivated, ask questions, meet regularly with him, and generally keep the marketing and production balls rolling, we tend to do more actual coding work too. I’d love to see a working app prototype on my device by the end of this year, even if we don’t actually get a smoothly tested version for sale on that timeline.

I’ve been writing a book since 2009, for Frey’s sake, but I finally started making true progress this fall after applying a sort of GTD-like system to the project. I’d like to either get that book fully self-published this year, or have a firm deal with a traditional publisher.

I’m launching some video courses soon, which have been in the works since last summer. I expect those to ship in Q1 of this year, yay!

I’m also FINALLY launching a podcast soon. If everything goes as planned, it’ll be out in time for Valentine’s Day. Woohoo!

I’m also launching another blog at some time this year, which will be a more personal but specific venture. I’ll post here when it goes live.


What a douchey word, right? But I need to make it a greater focus in 2015 and beyond. I spent the first seven whole years of my business under-charging, partly because I love what I do but also because I wanted my focus to be on great service and customer experience instead of great profit. But I’ve grown up and come to learn that those things aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s OK to make a decent living doing something you love.

Now that I’ve laid that foundation, I need to have a firmer focus on monetization with every single business decision I make. Heck, even that new personal blog I mentioned is going to have ads, something I’ve kept off my other sites for the most part. The advent of sponsored content makes this so much more OK for me—I’ve seen poorly integrated sponsorships as well as amazing ones, and I’m confident I can find a way to make good money on a blog and still provide unquestionable value to readers. I’ve never ever tried making a blog profitable before, but this year I’m going to make it a focus and at least see how it goes.


We need to lose weight. Especially me. We’ve needed this for a while, but it’s particularly urgent as I have a surgery type thing in March that will go better if I’ve lost even ten pounds.

The problem, in many ways, is that my weight is HAPPY weight. I met the love of my life, found a love of video games, and have been slowly getting fatter as I enjoy sitting around doing stuff I enjoy with someone I adore. The only times I’ve ever drastically dropped in weight were both when I was living abroad, isolated, and terribly ill to the point of hospitalization. NOT a good association, you know?

We also need to limit our expenses. We’ve never made or stuck to a budget; we barely even try. But as we plan for our future, it’s more and more crucial that we not overspend. We’ve kept our heads above water and been delightfully debt-free or close to it except (now) our house, but we don’t really save and plan ahead.

I’d like to have a fund for home décor splurges, as well as unexpected repair projects. I’d like it to be no big deal when we’re confronted with astounding hospital bills from unexpected medical issues. I’d like to save up for vacations we don’t even know we want to take yet. But I need to get much more serious about seeing this desire through. Now’s as good a time to start as any.


I have a ridiculously massive wardrobe, and yet I tend to get stuck wearing the same 5% of my clothes over and over again. That sort of makes sense to a point, since they’re items I love and feel great in, but it’s a bit silly and limiting. I also want to “shop” from my previous wardrobe by trying on stuff that I haven’t been able to fit into in ages—weight loss will give me a guaranteed shopping spree.

I have tons of craft supplies for cool projects that we just finally started unearthing when we cleaned out our basement. I’m excited to, say, check my Artsy Drawer (or Dresser) before I drive my ass all the way to Michael’s.

I feel the same about home décor and hardware—sometimes, we already have the right curtain rod that would look fine in a given room if I could just set my hands on it. I’m hoping that our Giant Basement Cleanse will assist.

Oh, and I love skincare and makeup, but I barely use most of my cool products. (For someone with an entire blog about this stuff, you’d be amazed how many nights I go to sleep without washing my face and then wake up annoyed that I have irritated skin.) I always want to spend more time and energy with my fun grooming products, because they really have an impact on how I look and therefore how I feel about myself. Why the hell am I just letting them expire under the sink? Let this year involve more masques and whatnot. And eyeliner. Use it or lose it.


So yeah, that’s my summary. What are YOU resolutish about this year?

My second piece for Medium

My second piece for Medium

Wow, I haven’t written anything here since my last Medium post. I sense a new trend!

Not really. I almost wrote a thing about One Star App Review Gate (kill me for saying that; I mean the stupid -gate suffix ironically, in case it wasn’t clear). But then I didn’t. So here’s my latest Medium post, about New Year’s Resolutions! A phrase which I’m not sure should be title case like that! Oh well! Happy new year! Or, if you prefer, Happy New Year!

When I empty the Roomba, I will finally remember to disassemble it over the counter instead of the trash can, even though I know that will make an annoying mess on the counter, because that one tiny fucking piece always falls out and then I have to root through the trash with my bare fucking hands like an animal. Or maybe I’ll just by a new Roomba, because WHO DESIGNED THAT PIECE.

A Roomba.
My other resolution is to start using unironic header images for my Medium posts.

Designer collections at big box stores

Designer collections at big box stores

I’ve seen this new business fad in home décor and fashion over the last few years; sought-after designers like Missoni and Jonathan Adler releasing budget-friendly collections at cheaper retailers like Target and JCPenney, respectively. I’ve always kind of wondered how this worked; with some like Missoni everything sold out in mere hours, so it was impossible to see how well it stood up. But with Adler, I was able to check out some pieces at my local JCP… and I was APPALLED at the quality.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not appalling on its own, necessarily. It’s about the same caliber as I would expect from other low-priced crap I’d buy at Penney’s. But I specifically examined his Elizabeth shower curtain, Alexa throw pillow, and Bleecker sofa. Let the whining begin! (Proto-whine; HOLY URLS BATMAN. JCP is not skilled at that part. It actually literally says “dotcom” as part of the link structure. Sigh. I’ll code it nicely, don’t worry. And also they code the sites so you can’t right click to download images on product pages, but if you just do so from their search results page, it’s this handy TIFF tool that allows you to set the exact dimensions and it scales up in fairly high resolution. Um, thanks guys! OK, on to the design stuff for real now.)

Exhibit A: Elizabeth reversible Greek key shower curtain, $35

Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler Elizabeth Shower Curtain, sold at JCPenney

This looks lovely, right? Classy and high-end and aaah, reversible. More things should be reversible that can be, because why the heck not. But not this, turns out. The fabric is this incredibly cheap totally sheer polyester, so the side with only a border is a completely impractical choice since the other side totally shows through even with no light source behind it. (Their web tool hid THAT nicely.) The stitching around the hems is terrible, uneven, and on a silky synthetic that frays. And the top openings for shower curtain rings aren’t grommets, they’re just cheaply cut and barely sewn buttonhole-like slits, with filaments of the polyester fabric already fraying badly on the brand-new model I unboxed to inspect. Er, sorry I didn’t fold it up as beautifully, but really, let’s just call it a service to your shoppers to warn them away from such shoddy merchandise.

The thing is, I wouldn’t even care if it were cheap quality if it were also a cheap price point. But I feel like $35 for a shower curtain that feels like it should be available for $10 at Walmart doesn’t do the Jonathan Adler brand justice, you know? A perfectionist like me looks at this, assumes he’s not all that picky about quality standards for ANYTHING he puts his name on, and dismisses the idea of buying even one of his pricey Full Brand shower curtains because I just assume it won’t meet my expectations either. Perhaps that’s snotty and unrealistic, but it’s a real account of what my Subconscious Compulsive Shopper did.

Exhibit B: Alexa Oblong Decorative Pillow, $32 original, $19.99 sale

Alexa Oblong Decorative Pillow, Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler for JCPenney

I must admit that I’m very cheap when it comes to throw pillows. I wouldn’t totally balk at the $32 price tag, but I’d be much more likely to buy it at somewhere between $10 and $20. What can I say? Blame years of Ikea shopping while broke in my 20s. But anyway. This isn’t about my weirdly cheap habits, but rather, about this pillow’s weirdly cheap construction. For you see, this is flimsy thin fabric which shows the lumpy awkward inner stuffing and label (who puts a label on the inside of a black throw pillow?) and the tape that creates the design is also cheap and poorly attached. I mean, I knew it was tape and not custom fine silk embroidery or crewel work; I get that. But the whole thing felt much less refined than the look I feel like it’s trying to create, and again, at the original price point this seemed ridiculous. At least the piping was nice enough.

This other pillow was nicer seeming, although if you inspected it too closely you saw that the machine-stitched detail around the edges of the key design didn’t always match up and revealed that the design beneath was actually just one piece of printed fabric rather than two fabrics sewn together/appliquéd, which is again the look you’re going for with this sleek elegant motif, in my opinion.

All in all, the pillows underwhelmed for the price point. Not as bad as the other items I inspected, but still nothing special up close in person. And maybe you’d argue that it doesn’t matter and it even calls itself “Decorative,” but you know what? In our household, throw pillows get used. We’re constantly piling them up as lumbar or head supports, and I don’t see that changing no matter what sofa we end up with.

Exhibit C: Blecker 80″ Sofa, $2,795 original, $1,675 sale

Bleecker 80" Sofa, Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler for JCPenney
We are indeed shopping for a new sofa (or hopefully a matching pair), but this was not a true contender. It’s way too weird and modern shaped, and even the sale price is way out of the budget for this Ikea girl. Even though I know Ikea sofas can be lame, we have our eye on some of their higher end models and anyway this was not on sale when I put my butt in it. It’s actually quite a bit cuter in person and calmer and less mod looking than I had expected, but it felt misproportioned (low to a fault) and very thin and cheap. The foam used is not high resilience at all; I don’t see it standing up to the test of time. And while I actually like the color better in person than I anticipated, the fabric feels cheaper.

It’s also a much more tonal white-on-nearly-blue than I realized, in that wide kinda mid-century tweed that cats love to claw the shit out of, and the pillows don’t match which I guess is the trend right now but I feel like if you sell pillows with a sofa, match them. These pillows are ever so slightly warmer gray, but like, not different enough to clearly contrast, like I would think they were just faded or purchased to sort of try to match but ultimately fail which is a terrible look. But I digress. The quality? Fine for a cheap sofa, perhaps even fine at the sale price point if you’re in love with the design and fabric and everything, but CERTAINLY not fine for the nearly $3k original price. You’re almost better off buying from Jonathan Adler Proper at that point, since those sofas are constructed with vastly better materials. (I know because I’ve wistfully sat on many of them.)

I don’t know. I realize I’m a huge snot, and a tester and noticer of details and tiny faults by nature, and picky by nature, and one who tends to aspire to products well out of a realistic budget. I realize I’m a conundrum of a shopper, a perfectionist who’s unwilling to pay for perfection (even though I *DO* buy all Apple tech now). But these just all felt like cheap-ass products with a luxury label and a luxury price tag, sold at a retailer whose customers are notoriously not into over-spending. I would love to hear an interview in which Jonathan Adler was asked to comment on the quality of this collection and the overall experience of launching a “budget” collection like this. As an Adler fan who’s unwilling to shell out for his main collection, and was thus SUPER STOKED for an affordable version, I feel like it cheapens and dilutes a swanky designer’s braaaaaand. And while I like to fancy myself savvier than to fall prey to brand worship, let’s be realistic: I totally do associate higher-end quality and prices with some brand I know to represent higher-end merchandise. I suspect that the amount of shopping research I do as we decorate our home would infiltrate even the most cautious, brand-disloyal of folks. (Or not. But it affects me yet I try to remain aware of it and balanced in how I make decisions.)

Quality really is hard to come by at reasonable prices. As much as I knock on Ikea, I’m liking the stuff I see in their higher-priced Stockholm collection more and more, ya know? It’s still cheap, but it’s high end cheap, where as this Adler Happy Chic collection is stuff that’s still expensive even though it’s low-end expensive, IMO. Maybe it’s just easier to brand up than down. But not always; I totally viewed L’Oréal’s attempt at a salon-caliber line of hair products as being the same cheap crap as their drugstore brand. But Ikea’s lower-end stuff has always been exceptional value overall, so maybe that’s what sways me? I’d be curious to hear other picky shoppers’ input on this if I could ever figure out how to properly re-enable blog comments, heh.

Form over function: The Fashion Edition

Form over function: The Fashion Edition

I fell deeply in love with this purse on first glance—to the point where I probably would have been willing to shell out the $178 (marked down from $400!) even when I wasn’t specifically in the market for a new bag, because it was so beautiful and seemed so incredibly functional. But once I opened it up, the love affair was over.

Perfect color-blocking (not so much that it'll look dated when the trend subsides in a year); perfect bright punch without veering into Neon Territory; perfect silvery gray and ivory that are cool and pale yet murky enough to hide dirt. Crossbody strap for maximum ergonomics, comfort, and security. Cool looking hardware. Not too prominent a brand logo. SO LOVELY!

For you see, this purse had no pockets whatsoever on the inside. And those two flimsy external pockets were too short to hold an iPhone (as well as being prohibitively exposed and annoying to open and close). So it’s essentially a purse that size exactly right for a full-sized iPad, but with no room to carry an iPhone, let alone a stylus, headset, wallet, keyring, or anything else you might want to carry with you along with your tablet and I guess the condoms that fit easily in the outer pockets. Hair ties. I don’t know. Not a f-cking wallet or phone or keys, that’s for sure. Anyway, my point is this: what percentage of women do you think own an iPad, but don’t own an iPhone, AND are willing to shell out for a purse that’s very clearly an iPad-intended form factor? (You can’t totally tell from my shot, but it basically looks like a case with a shoulder strap and some detailing.)

Furthermore, this bag was also less than an inch deep inside, and just exactly wide enough for the standard size iPad, naked. Which means that I couldn’t carry my iPad in the bulkier hardshell keyboard case that makes it extremely easy to type during meetings. (Does it surprise you to learn that that’s my case of choice? It is if I’m actually going to do anything with my iPad that warrants bringing it along with me in a purse and not a full-sized commuter bag.) Grrrrrrrr^n.

I may sound ridiculous to whine about this one bag, but it’s not just this bag. I find this problem coming up quite often in the women’s handbag design. There are rarely enough pockets to keep all of your crap in a useful location that makes it easily accessible and unlikely to ding up the other glorious brushed aluminum items in your bag. I even tried to have one custom made once, but the gal who made it underestimated the size of the iPhone (and so did I since I had it made about a month before the first gen came out). So it fits the crappy feature phone I had at the time, but anything as tall as an iPhone falls out. I would LOVE to re-line a bag (all bags) with a custom lining that is an entire wall pockets for different items, including all the basics I mentioned above, plus a business card holder and some makeup. I even tried to have such a thing commissioned twice, but it’s hard to find craftsperson who will work with leather these days, and I don’t think I’m willing to invest the time to become skilled enough to solve this problem myself.

In the same casual Nordstrom browsing this morning, I also opened up a flat wallet made by HOBO International, a strangely named company that purports to make handbags and other small leather articles “designed by women for women.” The wallet I examined boasted a smartphone pocket, and it was advertised as such with a little card that said “smartphone pocket” with an arrow, in a way that would grab your attention when you opened the wallet (which any shopper is CRAZY not to do!). I tried putting my iPhone 4S in there in its incredibly thin case*, but of course it didn’t fit in this slim flat wallet. I tried removing the case as well, but no dice there either. And keep in mind that the 4S is thicker but shorter than the more current 5 – I don’t think a 5 would have fit height-wise, let alone one of those crazy Samsung phablets that make me get all size envious. (Edited to add, the reviews confirm my suspicions.)

You may not appreciate the look, but you've never opened and closed a more satisfyingly clicky, solid, metal lipstick case in your life.Suffice it to say, I’m not buying the purse, but now I’m also mad at Marc Jacobs for not thinking this stuff through. Carrying my technology in a way that’s useful and accessible and fashionable matters a lot to me… to the point where I would probably spend full price for something that really accommodated that goal, even though that $400 price tag is crazy sauce to me, because I’m so frustrated at NEVER having owned a purse that makes proper use of space and fully addresses all my tech needs (let alone my Where Do I Put This Pretty Real Metal Designer Lipstick Tube So It Doesn’t Get Scratched By My Keys And Whatnot needs. Apple’s not the only one with great industrial design, ya know.). Do I put another period there, Chicago? ANSWER THIS USE CASE. GOD. See? Marc made me all capsy and it’s only Monday.

*Yes, I have a case on it. I’m disappointed in me, too. But I’ve shattered or chipped so many glass fronts and backs of so many iPhones now, and I drop the thing so many times in a given week, that it’s simply a requirement even though it saddens me to cover up such beautiful design. Gorilla Glass my ass.

More design I love/hate

More design I love/hate

After my recent post about design trends that I love/hate/waffle on, I came up with a few more that I thought were worth sharing. Because, you know, maybe the Pennsylvania Geological Survey will sponsor my blog. Shut up. Also, this turned into more than a few. What can I say? I have NEVER claimed to be unopinionated.

More things I’ve always loved, and expect to continue loving long past their trend expiry dates:

greek_keyGreek key design. This is usually used as a very geometric border or trim, but I’ve also seen it occupy the main space of a design (such as in this Trina Turk rug that I totally covet even though we have nowhere to put it). My 7th grade teachers captured my interest with a great segment on ancient Greek and Roman studies, and one of them had a Greek key engraved gold ring that she showed the class while she was reminiscing about her trip to Athens and teaching us about badass mythological creatures such as minotaurs. Mrs. Doyle, you’re the reason I still find this motif so charming. Mr. Nicoletta and Mrs. Doyle also jointly instilled in me a love for almost all things Classics, so I took Latin as a fifteen year old the summer after my freshman year of high school FOR FUN, and I am obsessed with these gorgeous dark blue and 24kt gold demitasse cups that my stepmom-in-law gave me because she never could find a use for them. News flash: neither can I, but I go out of my way to find excuses (like putting ice cream or mousse in them when we have company) because they are AWESOME and are hand-painted with figures of maidens unwillingly deflowered by waterfowl and whatnot. OK not really but you know how capricious and randy those Pantheon folks were; the images are maybe tawdry but also totally rad. Here’s to you, public middle school teachers! May you all someday inspire an unemployed person to sing your praises on their non-income-generating blog at 4 AM two decades later. ♥

Wissahickon_Schist__Media_PA_2AMarble and other igneous stone: Not other types of stone, mind you. OK wait, does marble count as igneous? Crap. Look, I like pretty and smooth-looking stones, even if they have a bunch of variation to their pattern. Marble, granite, grandiorite/quartz, slate (shit that’s metamorphic…) I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not so into sandstone/limestone or travertine, except on the outside of buildings, then those are OK. Forget I mentioned those geological terms (though I swear at least sandstone is sedimentary). Oh, and back when I lived in Bryn Mawr, PA, I loved all the building exteriors made of Wissahickon Schist. It’s this lovely mica-filled metamorphic (layered-looking) stone that often has tiny garnet crystals in it, and it was used to build oh so many buildings in that area, both austere Quaker and fancy neo-Gothic. The sparkly buildings, and the particular wet-rock-smell and sparkly mud during the springtime, were some geological highlights of my time on that lovely campus. Shut up I liked geology even though I think I got a D because who the fuck wants to go to lab all the time when they’re in college, not meeeeee, I had hijinks to jink and ladies to attempt to date and a radio show to poorly host. Wow, I bet my 7th grade teachers would be a lot happier with this blog post than my sophomore geology professor. I still liked your class, but I don’t remember your name  but I do remember that one time we ran into each other and watched a hawk disembowel a squirrel right in front of us on campus! ♥ for you too.

consoleMatchy-matchy. I really like pairs of things, matching sets of things, etc. I think I got this partly from my mom, since she always loved matching earring and necklace sets, and from my dad, because he’s just plain old-fashioned traditional. But I’m seeing more and more applications for this in my home décor choices. A pair of lamps or matching curtain and pillow fabric really does do a lot to tie a room together, and matching/symmetrical things like nightstands, sconces, armchairs, etc. just make me happy. They make a room feel pulled-together and orderly and they lend a whiff of formality which means you can be more playful in other areas without it looking like a dorm room. There was a pseudo-trend of not buying an entire, say, bedroom set from the same place so you didn’t make a room look like a catalog, but I WISH my life looked more like a catalog. Matching sets make me happy. (I even tried to commission a matching hat/scarf/gloves set on Etsy back when Alchemy was still a feature. I’m getting old.) I’m okay with mixing in  pieces that aren’t totally coherent too, I just like at least some matchitude to a room so the incoherence is less obvious. And the fact that like three fixtures in our two bathrooms are polished chrome instead of brushed/satin finish really annoys the crap out of me. (No, not so much that I’ve bothered figuring out how to change them; don’t be ridiculous.) The console/entryway area to our house pictured here looked so much cuter when I swapped out one bold accent lamp for two subtler but matching horsey ones. Also: horsey lamps.


Things I recently realized I hate:

petrieInset legs on sofas and chairs: Just put them in the normal spot on the outer corners, structural integrity be damned. Same goes for those inset retro angled legs. I know we’re all super into Mid-Century Modern Woooooo now, but this will look weird and dated and pretend space age reeeally soon (oh wait it totally already does, sorry guys). Very slightly retro-angled is OK, like on the outer edges of a semi-mod armchair, but I’m talking about those seriously angley ones like this and worse.

Le Corbusier chairs/sofas: I think I liked these for a fleeting heartbeat before I realized that, no, design blogs like them. I do not. Our neighbors have this sofa and the two matching chairs in their living room, and while it totally suits their more minimalist aesthetic, it just doesn’t suit ours at all. chairPlus, these just LOOK uncomfortable to me, despite the padding—the bars look confining even if you don’t feel them. When we cat-sat for said neighbors, Grant was afraid to sit in the sofas or chairs at first because they’re so small he felt like they wouldn’t hold us (which is ridiculous because while we’re out of shape, we’re not THAT out of shape, but still, that’s not a great thought for living room furniture to convey in my mind). I struggle sometimes with convincing him that not all items he thinks *look* uncomfortable actually are, but in this case, I totally get where he’s coming from even though these are cozy to actually sit on/in. For humans AND cats. Side note: though I might dislike this chair for my own abode, I do kinda love that it’s so iconic it wound up being used in Tiny Tower. The Furniture Store sells this item as “Modern Chair.” Pretty good likeness, eh?

Plaid in home design, at all. Keep it to lumberjack flannel and hipster westerns. I don’t like it on home items, beyond maybe a dish towel or two. No pillows/throws/upholstery/curtains/rugs/duvets/sheets, please. And don’t get me started about printing plaid on non-textiles like china. AVOID!

The Barcelona chair/sofa: Look, I love me some Actual Barcelona, since I lived there for a year and am obsessed with much of that city. But I get so sad when products that I don’t really care for use the name Barcelona (not that I blame them because it has a beautiful ring to it, but still). This looks WAY less comfortable than the Le Corbusier option, plus I hate the lack of armrests. What a pain in the ass. And these fuckers are EVERYWHERE in home design blogs/books/tours/whatever right now. I just honestly don’t get it. I don’t think the frame is attractive and it looks like it’s MADE to fall apart when you sit on it. Maybe the magic is that it doesn’t, but this makes no sense to my sense of aesthetics at all. Sense.

Weird male fashion match-fails. Grant just pointed out today during the Colts game that the commentators were almost all wearing pocket squares, yet their pocket squares were all somewhat imperfectly colored to not quite coordinate with their ties and/or shirts. He was totally right; check out this image (big image on click). I was pleased to see in this Miss Manners column that she seems to disapprove of the pocket square as visual but not functional accessory; I concur. But if you’re gonna fancy square it up, make it match or at least relate, instead of clash! (I know the pic is tiny and all blued-out from the Fox set, but you’ll have to trust me that 4/5 guys wore silly squares, and 4/4 squares slightly clashed with the wearer’s tie instead of coordinating with it. Boo.)

Super traditional/Persian/oriental rugs: These have just never been my style, and I don’t think they ever will be. Way too busy and frumpy-looking in my head.

That Saarinen pedestal table everyone loves so much: This is totally the Barcelona Chair of tables. Popular ’til it’s overdone, IMO, and while I like marble and the fact that you don’t have to contend with a bunch of irritating table legs, I just think this looks similarly Fake Space-Agey like the inset angled retro legs. Like something out of the movie Sleeper. I don’t know. These bore and annoy me. Guy has a cool last name, though; I’ll give him that.

Excessive nailheads or tufting: I’ve only recently come around on accepting elements like roll arms or nailhead detail, since my sense of aesthetics was much cleaner until recently when people like Emily Henderson got me all open to being antique-happy and eclectic. But I don’t care for nailhead detail on super clean-looking modern pieces, and I don’t care for megatufting on inappropriate or non-traditional surfaces like all the fuck over the sides of an ottoman or something. Tuft headboards, seats, backs, maybe arms if it’s a Chesterfield, and that’s about it. Don’t tuft weird things, please. No tufted walls or kitchen counters or dining room tables, K? Combining old-school elements with newer design is tricky. I think it usually looks more forced and awkward than it does innovative and fashion-forward. Go ahead and mix traditional and modern pieces, but keep the modern all modern and the traditional all traditional. At least that’s what I say. (And on that note, don’t put twelve acrylic Eames chairs with a carved Victorian oak dining table, dammit, Dwell. Cut that shit out; it looks weird and dumb.)

Those Eames bent plywood recliners and plastic dining room chairs. This one’s a twofer, or a maybe even morefer! Turns out, I ONLY like Eames office chairs, with the swively aluminum base. And I think that’s only because in general I think office chairs are ugly, and those ones are by far less ugly while still being roly-poly which I like. In an office chair. In addition to hating on the iconic recliner, I also hate the plywood and acrylic chairs, I also hate on those colorful Eames ball clocks and those similarly colorful Eames ball over-door hook racks. Turns out I don’t like all that much Eames after all. THERE I SAID IT.

Fake natural materials. Maria Killam specifically points out somewhere I can’t find that you should never use fake granite/marble for countertops, which I think is spot on. (However, she installed wood laminate flooring, which I’m also against.) Look, it’s not that I’m insanely rich. I’m really, really not. But I just think if you can’t afford the real thing, you should pick a different material. I get so disappointed when I see plaster that has been fake-gray-grained to look like Carrara marble or something. And the creepy pseudo mother-in-law former kitchen sink in our basement has a fake grandiorite Formica surround, and it’s so god-awful. All or nothing when it comes to natural materials. (Weirdly enough, I don’t feel this way about gemstones—before I knew that Grant was proposing to me with a real diamond inherited ring, I suggested that he go high-end cubic zirconium because no one would know the difference but us. I also have a fake blue topaz ring that I’m pretty sure is glass, and I LOVE it.)

Polka dots. These read as too cutesy to me.. According to Apartment Therapy, I’m going to be annoyed by a lot of new design in 2013.  I’m also not wild about paisley; I’m sure some versions are elegant, but it usually reads kinda Vera Bradley-countryish to me.


Trends that I guarantee are as fleeting as the Kitten Heel Outbreak of Late 2003:

Ladder shelves. Just buy a normal shelf, people. It’s going to look suuuper dated (kind of already does, IMO) and topple-happy and like the handyman just accidentally left it there so you went with it and stuck a plant and some books on it. (But not all that many books, because those things don’t hold shit for weight. Buy a real bookshelf.)

Mercury glass. I LOVE it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s everywhere these days and I can tell I’m going to hate it and be annoyed by it in a few years, so I’ve gone out of my way to limit my consumption to exactly one $15 lamp, which goes in my office because Grant totally hates this trend. I think mirrored furniture/lamps and other blingy super-metallic home décor accents are also not long for this world, but I still kind of love them. I just can’t justify spending money on them since I think they’ll look super gaudy soon. ELLE Décor via Apartment Therapy said way back in early 2012 that we’d seen enough lacquered bright furniture à la Hollywood Regency. I think this goes for super mirrored stuff and Chinoiserie overboard, too. (Side note, when I barely knew my neighbor Faith she poked fun at me for using that word, because she thought it was just “chinois” and I was being a crazy francophile for adding that extra morpheme. But I swear I’ve read it in like every other sentence since then, haha. I win this round, Faith, you amazing model of perfect housekeeping, you! I’m stealing your sofa when you leave town.)

Brightly colored faucet fixtures. Seriously. You’re going to hate it in a few years. Hold off on that custom blue porcelain bathtub, too. If the over-prevalence of busy glass mosaic tiles hasn’t been enough of a warning for you, then it’s possible you just can’t be helped.

Vessel sinks. BATHROOM SINKS SHOULD BE USEFUL FOR WASHING YOUR HANDS OMG. When we were house-hunting in late 2010/early 2011, I can’t tell you how many bathrooms were renovated/newly constructed with pointless irritating shallow splash-inducing awkward vessel or bowl sinks. People have been insetting (?) their sinks for many hundreds of years now. Sometimes you shouldn’t try to innovate.


Bigger picture trends that I think will backfire in time:

Super duper open space plans. Sure, they were popular in the 70s and they seem popular again now, but I think sometimes we like having the diners in the dining room and the TV on in the living room and the cooks in the kitchen with no contact or noise interference between those groups. My good friends are looking into custom building their own house right now, and the husband is dead set on a very open and spacious plan. I don’t think they’ll regret it, but I bet if my not-THAT-open 1947 whatever house had high ceilings and enormous windows, he’d be less likely to feel like it urgently needed more openness. Every time we toured our house before making an offer, the agent we were with would suggest tearing out this one wall to open the kitchen up to the dining room. You know what? I think we’ll leave it, thanks. It’s cheaper that way and by the time we had the money saved up for such an unnecessary remodel, it’d be en vogue to have a Parisian-style kitchen set far away from dining guests anyhow. Caveat: We do still all need higher ceilings and more windows, which go lower and extend higher and take up more of the wall. Come on now.

Open storage. But we already knew that. :)

On being female and tall

On being female and tall

There are very few bad things about being a tall gal. But this is one of them. THE GAPS! The gaps that can occur between sock and legging, between glove and sleeve, and especially between waistband and shirt hem. Those are horrible things to experience, especially on a cold and windy day such as today. UGH. I had to bring auxiliary socks in to mitigate such a disaster. (Much better now, see?)

What are the few other bad things about being a tall female, you ask? Well, as a 5'11" woman, I shall tell you. Bumping your head more often than you’d like; being too tall for the men or women you’d like to date, and having to put up with their insecurities about your height until you finally find a keeper; being a wuss in heels because you wear them less often and are therefore unconditioned to the pain they inflict; having your head/shoulders stick way above the other members of your dance circle in a club, thus making you feel even more self-conscious than usual; a tendency to develop shoulder-slump-related spinal misalignments; having to pay more for extra length in trousers and wedding dresses and winter coats; never finding a computer monitor stand and/or task chair and/or desk that quite fits your ergonomic needs; never ever being able to find over-the-knee socks or boots that truly are; not being able to even consider most miniskirts unless you wear fully opaque leggings underneath; constantly feeling bad for whoever is behind you at movies/shows; riding Mexican buses which are designed for people shorter than the average Mexican citizen, who is in turn shorter than the average US citizen, who is in turn shorter than the average “tall” US citizen; occasionally being mistaken for a man in certain outfits or contexts; uncomfortable clown syndrome any time your car gets delivered to you from any valet anywhere; having to cram your legs or dangle them awkwardly in the aisle when occupying nearly any US bus seats, unless you manage to get the inner/window seat, and even then ow; everything about all affordable airplane trips/always having to factor in the cost of the extra leg room upgrade; occasionally intimidating insecure men whose approval you need during job interviews; being able to see right over the stalls in some awkward bathrooms with ridiculously short doors (usually in fun but seedy bars); friends setting you up with or assuming you would enjoy the romantic attention of otherwise obnoxious men based solely on their similar height.

What are some things that are pretty darn awesome about being a tall lady, you ask? Being the one to always have to get things down off shelves for people (it sounds annoying but it’s actually kind of a little usefulness/power trip); being able to see almost no matter what at concerts/movies; having a built-in excuse not to wear high heels like all the other ladies when getting fancy; justification to shell out for the extra leg room that everyone would like to have an excuse to pay for on planes; totally pulling off maxi dresses, long gloves, really long scarves, and tunics/caftans, when your shorter counterparts usually fail to do so; justification for dropping money on certain pricey bespoke items like knee-high leather boots that actually go up to your knees; being able to spike volleyballs even when you have no real athletic ability; slight inherent HORSE advantage; justification for doggedly seeking a taller mate, as opposed to those 5’2″ girls whom everyone thinks should be less whiny about how they only like men who are six feet or taller, because come on, princess; built-in limits on shopaholic tendencies for items like boots and trousers and tights that are too short at most retailers; plausible claim of Viking heritage; slightly less likelihood of being mugged or harassed or otherwise targeted as a weak female who can be bothered in a rough part of town; feeling like part of a secret superior superwoman club whenever you meet other tall women.

How can you support your local tall woman? Don’t give her too much crap about wanting to date a taller man; put up with her incessant whining when she wears heels; don’t get bent out of shape if she suddenly towers over you because she chose to wear heels since she hates feeling left out of the Fun Shoe Club the other 364 days of the year; think twice about personality and general likability before you try to fix her up with just any old tall dude you know; and go ahead and ask her to retrieve something for you from the top shelf or place that star upon the top of your Christmas tree. Better yet, ask her quietly if she can tell whether you’re going bald or have any gray hairs on top. She’ll probably feel special and she’ll probably tell you the truth, but gently, because she likely appreciates that only she can provide the specific insight you need. Win-win.

Design trends vs. personal aesthetics

Design trends vs. personal aesthetics

I’m wearing a new coat today. I’m in love with my new coat. It was a splurge financially, even on clearance, and it’s impractical as all hell since my chubby arms don’t fit into it as well as I would like. But I bought it anyway for the glorious, high-contrast piping. I LOVE PIPING. (OK, maybe it’s more like edging, but you get the idea.)

This weird gold mosaic thing on Amazon's campus makes for some pretty great photo ops.

I loved piping even before I started seeing coats like this in the goop newsletter and on The Good Wife and on other people in real life, and I’m confident I’ll still love piping when these jackets are no longer widely available. But this got me thinking about design trends, and how susceptible I can be to what’s currently en vogue as opposed to what I inherently like in a more timeless way. I’m slow to warm to most trends, so I start liking them when they’re past their peak, so to speak, rhyme not intended. So. What are some other motifs or design elements that I have always loved and expect to love forever?

Things I loved before they were cool, and will love forever (probably):

Hexagons. Sure, they are popular in rugs and mugs now, but they’ve been around for a while. I don’t love these ‘gons religiously in a Battlestar Galactica cut-the-corners-off-every-damn-rectangle-ever kind of way, I just think they’re a beautiful motif. They kind of symbolize nature and organization, à la beehive, and they’re a nice crisp fairly masculine pattern that helps offset girlier elements. I got these sheets a few years ago from The Company Store well before the hexagon motif trend had blossomed, and I seek more hexagonal joy in new design acquisitions. I like other ‘gons too.

Turquoise. Not the watered-down teal that Pantone voted 2010’s color of the year. Don’t get me wrong, that’s nice and my office is that color, but my truly favorite flavor of turquoise is bluer and a bit darker (and unsuitable for walls in a northern-facing room). I can pinpoint the origin of my obsession perfectly – my mom had a Hang Ten brand polyester cap-sleeved T-shirt with a scoop neck and those little Hang Ten feet embroidered in white on one shoulder. Total 70s piece. I inherited that shirt in early high school, or maybe 8th grade, and I was in LOVE. I was too self-conscious of my body to even wear it without overalls over it (shut up; they were in) but I loooved it and I got so many compliments when I wore it because that color just sets me ablaze somehow. I glow like a pregnant lady in bright blue-based turquoise, and I love it – it’s at once calming and jazzy, outgoing and serene. Totally timeless (it’s come in and out of fashion several times since then, which is convenient since I never plan to stop wearing it!).

Art Nouveau. There was a real Renaissance of Art Nouveau-styled posters when I was in college, but I was drawn to Nouveau stylings even before the trend-cauldron that is a women’s college, and that aesthetic has stuck with me through the years as probably my most girly taste. I love the look– when I visited Paris during my junior year of college living abroad in Barcelona, I felt lost in joy just staring at the iconic Metro signs with botanical streetlights. The Catalan modernism that surrounded me in Barcelona was awesome, of course, but the even more florid Art Nouveau was the design movement that really captured my heart. It still does. I wish I could get away with more Nouveau in our home design, but I don’t think Grant’s aesthetic is quite that verdant or feminine, if you will. However, I think Nouveau is why I pushed so hard to purchase this Moroccan temple-insipred rug (tomcat included for scale) which he eventually agreed to. Success!

Gray. The trend towards gray as the hot (cool) new neutral is well documented, but I was into gray clothing before then solely because it flatters me. I look really, really good in gray; something about my skin tone just plays well with it. Gray eye shadow flatters my blue eyes best. Gray mascara is a softer look than black which matches my hair better than brown. I bet I look amazing when my hair starts going gray someday. I lived in my J. Crew gray turtleneck senior year of college. It just works on me. I admit that as home designs go, I’m as susceptible to the trend as everyone else though. We haven’t yet actually painted any rooms gray, but we’re totally gonna, and yes, I know we’ll regret it when some other neutral starts to make gray look dated. Oh well! Side note: I am not a consistent speller of “gray” over “grey,” which you’d think I would be given how clearly picky and opinionated I am. Go figure!

Owls. Look, I know they’re trendy, but they’re my alma mater’s unofficial mascot so I get to have a shitload of them with trend immunity, OK? You can have a bajillion bearcats or Spartans or whatever. I won’t judge. Owls are wise and cute and they can turn their heads all the way around and you can’t do that and shut up.

Herringbone, and kind of chevron, but NOT zig-zag. Perhaps we need a mini tutorial to differentiate herringbone, chevron and zig-zag, yes? I think we do. In my often wrong and extremely opinionated mind, herringbone has the V tines alternating, usually with a minor strip down the middle that would be the spine of said herring. Chevron would have a seam down the middle so the V tines have something specific to meet at, but the tines would be matching color. Zig-zag would be up and down Vs with no seaming or middle lining, à la Charlie Brown’s shirt. Here’s a hasty MS Paint tutorial that I didn’t think to search for the equivalent of! Hope you like primary colors!

Anyway, I *like* herringbone and I mostly like chevron, particularly in clothing. I don’t care for zig-zag AT ALL. Somehow the absence of that center element gives it a distinctly kiddie feel, which isn’t my thing unless you’re decorating a nursery. And even then, it’s too sharp and graphic for my taste in kiddie things. And of course, these are WAY overdone in home design right now, and most of the home design I see is actually zig-zag anyway and not herringbone or chevron. Herringbone to me is supposed to be grown-up like this and chevron to me is supposed to be kinda graphic and 70s-trippy like this. In summary: f— a zig-zag. That shit needs to end already. Unless you are Charlie Brown, in which case, you’ve been through enough and I’ll leave you alone (but still blog snidely about you).

Things I’ve always hated:

Combined patterns. OK, to be fair, I totally own these two crazy patterned bras. But I like the bottom one and HATE the top one – I kind of bought the top one ironically because it is the TRASHIEST pattern combination imaginable! Why is it that I like the one and hate the other? Well, the bottom/good one has three different patterns that are separate fabrics, juxtaposed but not shoved into one fabric. The top one has two disjointed patterns shoved together to make them attempt to coherently work as one pattern. This is a sin. Simple, right? (I never said I was easy to understand. And now I’m a weird lady who puts her bras on the Internet.)

Lettuce edge. I’m surprised I don’t see this somewhere in my fashion rules. I do hate it a lot, and always have. I think I inherited this distaste from my semi-seamstress mom; however, that’s funny because she also hates raw/unfinished edges and I don’t mind those so much. Interesting which insanely strong tastes we inherit from our parents, eh?

Stupid seagrass things. As I reiterated here, I think they look dumb and are dust traps and are generally a fleeting trend that costs quite a lot of money. Just look at this dumb chair. It is dumb and will look even dumber in five years, plus imagine if you spilled something on it. Shut up. Go buy a regular chair, you tool. It looks really uncomfortable too.

Clear lamp bases, when you can see the cord. That’s just dumb. Why would you want to see that? I guess that sort of falls slightly under Industrial Chic, but I specifically hate this a lot (and so does Grant; for once we agree) because it seems like a very very silly and fleeting look that people will immediately hate. And so far in my lamp-shopping experience, which started maybe three months ago in an illuminatory frenzy, I have determined that lamps are expensive enough that you should not buy stupid trendy fleeting ones.

Sunburst mirrors. It’s not that I hate sunburst mirrors (or sunburst clocks or sunburst picture frames), but they aren’t particularly functional as mirrors since the reflective part is so tiny, and I just think they’re wildly overdone right now. Some overdone things are still inherently gorgeous, like the Arco lamp, but I’m over the sunburst trend. Especially if it costs you more than like $50. Go find a funky boldly-framed something that’s more unique. When everybody does some sort of mid-century-modern craze like this, it becomes homogeneous and boring.

Thing I used to hate but have turned around on:

Pearls. I used to think pearls were oh so old fashioned and possibly 80s, but I came around on them. I think that, like most design elements, trends come and go, but I’ve come to think of pearls as a timeless classic. So much so that I wore them on my wedding day, and everyone thought they looked swell (including me).

Hearts. I used to think (and constantly say) “Hearts are for sissies!” but now I’ve come around. Especially on really cute ones like this adorable Etsy print. I think I mostly objected to shitty boring Valentine-style hearts, or heart doilies, or ugly heart birthstone necklaces or something. But yeah, hearts have a place in my… heart now. (Look, where did you think I was going with that sentence? Shut up.)

Industrial chic. I was slow to warm to this design trend, and I still think it can be done really dumb – bare Edison bulbs are annoying to look at, and you should see the fugly cheap-looking lighting fixtures they used in my old Amazon office building. But all in all, I’m becoming OK with elements of this. Paxton Gate in Portland has some of the coolest steampunk-taxidermy-art I’ve ever seen, and I guess I kind of lump steampunk in with industrial because, you know, gears. See what I mean? I acquiesce to the trends only once they’re past their prime. (Ooh, minor Amazon pun.)

Animal print, especially colored. For a long-ass time I thought leopard print just SCREAMED “creepy, leathery-skinned cougar lady with frosted lipstick, covered in costume jewelry, and reeking with the stench of desperation and too much overpriced perfume.” But then I kinda started to like it. (Must be getting older, eh?) I’ve decided that, when done appropriately, leopard and other animal prints don’t have to be totally gross. You just have to keep it within reason. Much like how showing off the girls means a longer hemline, if you wear leopard print, you should avoid combining it with huge gleaming Vuitton logos, dark enormous sunglasses, ridiculous bombshell hair or eyeliner,  lots of exposed skin, and/or red, yes even lipstick, unless it is Halloween or some other theme party. I was also initially bothered by the logical fallacy of animal prints on colored backgrounds like bright blue or pink, but then I started feeling like those were kind of more punk than cougar, and that’s more my comfort zone, so I’m in. Fine. I have a blue and black tigery top and a blue gray and black leopardy scarf. Sue me. And if you’re looking to lower the cougar factor of an animal print look, borrow a simple rule from nature: go herbivore. Zebra print and the recently-popularized giraffe print are WAY less cougar-screaming than anything off a big cat. You’re welcome.

One shoulder (kinda). I really really really really hated when this first started coming back during my middle school years. (Only amongst the hip vintage crowd, but still.) I’m now okay with some sleek, otherwise-simple one-shouldered dresses; however, do NOT come near me with just one sleeve. That’s just stupid and you look like you were in a brawl and if you like I will tear off your other sleeve so you match, you silly silly woman. (Men, even gay men, never do this. Bless them.)


Edit: I also wrote this follow-up post with more design loves/hates that occurred to me.

Ten reasons I haven’t blogged lately.

Ten reasons I haven’t blogged lately.

1) I got married. That was kind of busy.

2) I have a new job. It, of course, takes up a lot of my time, passion, energy, and tennis elbow quotient. But it’s loads of fun! I’m the French Linguistic QA Specialist at NCsoft, and I primarily focus on French-language text in Aion, a Korean-developed MMO.

3) I’ve been consulting more, helping people write ads or tweak their profiles. Check out my consulting page at for more info, but basically, between that and my full-time day job I’ve had less leisure time and less inclination to blog.

4) I’ve been blogging elsewhere. Namely, at, about beauty. Occasionally at my lovebl.og. Not nearly enough there.

5) I’ve also been Tweeting elsewhere. Mostly @heliotro_pe, sometimes @loveb_ug, and rarely @ginnielizz.

6) I went to Japan, which required the learning of some Japanese. And because of #2 I’m also learning some Korean. And we’re also learning some Brazilian Portuguese for a friend’s upcoming wedding in Rio. Whew!

7) Oh yeah, I changed my name. (See #1.) That was kind of a pain in the ass, truth be told. All done now, hence the new URL!

8) The aforementioned tennis elbow. It sucks. It makes typing and mousing lots really, really hard.

9) I’m trying to work on a book relating to my consulting practice (see #3), but #8 is obviously interfering. While there are entertaining tools to help with this, they don’t work so well on the go!

10) Turns out I only had nine reasons. :)